Let me say this: the Miami Dolphins enter this Sunday Night’s game against the New England Patriots as the better team roster-wise and should win. However, this is the first division game on the road in the division, and going up to Foxborough, especially on a Sunday Night, is a tough task. I realize the Patriots aren’t the dominant team they once were with Tom Brady, but they still have head coach Bill Belichick, and he always has his teams prepared on defense because that’s his calling card. The side will be we have an explosive offense with a lot of talent, and that’s true, but the Philadelphia Eagles have once, too, and they eked out of Foxborough last Sunday despite their offense not putting on a good show. 

The Dolphins have Tua Tagovailoa as their quarterback, unlike last year’s game in Foxborough. He is 4-0 against the Patriots in his short career. Belichick is known for taking your best offensive player out of the game, and his task is to find a way to take Tyreek Hill out of the game or minimize his impact. This could open things up for other players on offense, like Jaylen Waddle or Braxton Barrios. Tua must be patient and take what the defense gives him, and if he gets chances like last week down the field, he’s got to hit them, which I’m sure he will. 

This is also another test for the Dolphins offensive line. Last week, against the Los Angeles Chargers, they did a very good job holding Joey Bosa and Kahil Mack in check and not impacting the game. The Patriots don’t have a lot of game-changers on defense, but a solid collection of players who do well on defense. They no longer have Devin McCourty in the secondary, but Belichick always comes up with a scheme. The line has to show they are up to challenge again, especially if Terron Armstead doesn’t play again this week. But it seems he is trending in the right direction, but he could be rusty with the layoff. Connor Williams has to do better snapping the ball as well. 

I expect the defense to play much better this week and as the season progresses. They came up with timely sacks and forced a key intentional grounding penalty last week that saved the win. However, their run defense was awful last week, and I expect the Patriots to try and do things the Chargers did last week. The Chargers have a good offensive line, so give them credit. I’ve watched the Patriots this summer, and they don’t seem as strong on the offensive line as in years past, as evidenced by not having the same starting five all summer and even having many of their guys questionable this week. It’s an area the Dolphins need to take advantage of. If the Patriots can run the ball, it could set up for a potentially long night for the defense and the whole team. This year, the Patriots have more structure on offense with Bill O’Brien than a year ago when they had co-offensive coordinators. 

 The Patriots look like a popular upset pick this week after nearly beating the Eagles and showing they aren’t as bad as people think mentality. By just about everyone, the Patriots have been picked to finish last in the division. They will use that all season long with a chip on their shoulder. 

This is a game the Dolphins have to show they are a superior team. They lost all their games on the road in the division last year. I know they didn’t have Tua in two of those games, but if the Dolphins are going to be a real contender and a potential division winner, it starts Sunday Night, and they can’t take the Patriots lightly.